Kitsune Zero is stylized as an old school platformer, like the ones found on the older Nintendo consoles. More accurately, Kitsune Zero seems to be a reskin of the classic Super Mario Bro’s that can be found on the NES. While this is not a negative thing, those who have played those titles can know what to expect from a gameplay perspective.
Kitsune Zero is a prequel to a game called Kitsune tales and focuses on the adventure of a character named Yumi. Players will guide Yumi through multiple stages to rescue a friend who was captured by an evil samurai. At the end of each level, there is a boss level styled after older Mario titles where players will have to traverse the level while the evil samurai will throw fire balls at them the closer, they get. Once players cross the bridge, there will be dialog between the two characters but that is about all there is for narrative.
The game doesn’t lean too heavy into plot and with the first 5 worlds being the focus for story, it won’t take long for players to see the credits on this short adventure. While not story related, it is important to explain that players might have a hard time finding this game on steam since it is also paired with another game. To track it down, I had to search for it and found it under the full name of Kitsune Zero/Super Bernie World. Although there is no real connection between the two games, it would have been better if Kitsune Zero was offered as a standalone game.
Players will be tasked with moving Yumi from one end of the screen to the other while dodging enemies along the way. Each enemy has a very basic pattern to follow but once they get mixed in with some of the platforming sections, things can start to get hectic. For example, I was stuck on a part in world 4-2 due to a turtle type enemy that was positioned on the platform I needed to be on. Players can take out the creatures by jumping on top of them but sometimes moving right passed them is the best answer.
As players traverse each level, they will find power ups that allow for Yumi to grow in size and eventually throw fire balls at the enemies. Taking damage will take away a power up and once players are reduced to her smallest size, one more hit will mean its time to start that level over again. Thankfully, there is no live system in place so players are allowed to make as many mistakes as possible without having to worry about being booted to a main screen.
There are coins scattered throughout the levels that tie into a scoring mechanic along with a timer that shows how fast players can clear a level. While there are around 25 worlds to be explored, the first 5 are where the story is at. After those 5, players are allowed to continue with the game and there are even new enemies to run into along the way, enticing players to continue playing after the credits roll.
There is voice acting for the few cutscenes to be found in the game, mostly between levels, and the quality of the voice acting isn’t too terrible. It is safe to say that the game does a good job of keeping the dialog to a minimum so players can hop right back into the gameplay aspect of Kitsune Zero.
Overall, this game hits all the nostalgia points that older Mario games have created while also managing to bring in a mixture of its own personality here. The game serves as a prequel to Kitsune tales and did a good job of bringing my attention to the series, even if it is bundled with a weird Super Bernie World tie in. With a small price point of 4.99 USD at the time of writing this, it is worth picking up if players are looking for a simple platformer to pass the time.